The 2023 ‘Follow The Light’ surf photography grant program is back and looking for the next generation of surf photographers
Going back to A.R. Gurrey’s 1914 The Surf Riders of Hawaii, the art of surf photography has inspired and been a guiding light in the development and evolution of wave-riding for more than 100 years.
With legends of the lens such as John Severson, Ron Stoner, Art Brewer, Tom Servais, Jeff Divine and Larry Moore all calling this area home, San Clemente and Dana Point have unquestionably played a super-sized role in this evolution.
With Surfer and Surfing magazines headquartered here, the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s were a high-water mark for the form. As the photo editor of Surfing, Moore, more commonly known as “Flame” (a nickname he acquired because of his red hair) turned the emerald-green tubes at Salt Creek into his own personal photo studio.
But more than that, he was instrumental in creating surf photography as a viable occupation, and perhaps most importantly, scouting young, new talent both in front of and behind the lens.
After a hard-fought battle with brain cancer, Flame departed the physical plane in October 2005.
Determined to keep his spirit alive, a group of friends and family formed the Follow The Light Foundation to ensure his legacy of passionately supporting up-and-coming surf photographers continued.
Follow The Light dedicated itself to honoring this next generation through an annual grant program, including an awards presentation ceremony. Bringing together our community of surf media, industry professionals, athletes and friends, honorees include some of today’s most important and talented photographers, including modern luminaries such as Chris Burkard, Todd Glaser, Ray Collins and Morgan Maassen.
The 2023 Follow The Light Surf Photography grant program is here, and the submission window is open through Thursday, Aug. 31. This is an incredible opportunity for aspiring young surf photographers between the ages of 16 and 25 to introduce their work to the world and have a shot at a $5,000 grant, as well as real working opportunities.
“Being involved in Follow The Light has been an amazing experience all the way around,” said 2022 winner Kalani Cummins. “The grant helped me get on my feet a little more, and winning opened up some great opportunities, but more than that, it’s amazing to be part of this next generation of surf photographers and get the chance to meet them all and be part of something bigger.”
Recognizing that the arena in which surf photographers work today has changed dramatically since Flame was at the helm of Surfing, the Follow The Light organizing committee has focused its energies on helping up-and-coming lensmen and women get their start in the business and develop the tools and relationships necessary to take their careers to the next level.
“It’s never been easy to make it as a surf photographer, but it’s harder than ever,” explained Summer Chew Meek, who chairs the Follow The Light committee.
“With changing media landscapes and business models, what this next generation faces is really challenging, but it’s so important to support and foster their talents. Photography is how the sport, culture and community of surfing has thrived over the last century,” he continued.
In their prime, Surfer and Surfing magazines battled for cover shots, A-list talent and ace photographers. But that was then, and this is now.
If the art of surf photography is to survive for generations to come, it’s going to take amazing programs like Follow The Light and the support of surf media and business to keep the flame lit.
For more information and to enter, go to usbrc.org/follow-the-light.